Happy Canada Day! Canada became independent of Britain gradually, in stark contrast to the fit we Yanks threw in the 1770s. The celebration of Canada Day grew gradually as well. There was no instructions from the founders on how to commemorate the holiday, like John Adams' plan to celebrate July 4th "with bonfires and illuminations". Nevertheless, some traditions have taken hold for Canada Day, as it is the one day every year when Canadians feel the need to show off their patriotism.

It was on this date in 1867 that the nation was officially born when the Constitution Act joined three provinces into one country: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada province, which then split into Ontario and Quebec. However, Canada was not completely independent of England until 1982. The holiday called Dominion Day was officially established in 1879, but it wasn't observed by many Canadians, who considered themselves to be British citizens. Dominion Day started to catch on when the 50th anniversary of the confederation rolled around in 1917. In 1946, a bill was put forth to rename Dominion Day, but arguments in the House of Commons over what to call the holiday stalled the bill. The 100th anniversary in 1967 saw the growth of the spirit of Canadian patriotism and Dominion Day celebrations really began to take off. Although quite a few Canadians already called the holiday Canada Day (Fête du Canada), the new name wasn't formally adopted until October of 1982. Image by Martin C. Barry.

Queen Elizabeth is in Ottawa for the holiday. She is visiting Canada for a nine-day tour that ends July 6th in Toronto. This is her 22nd trip to Canada. Image by Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press.

What's a patriotic celebration without a parade? There will be parades held in cities, towns, and villages all over Canada today. Flickr user Antony Pranata captured images of the Canada Day parade in Richmond, British Columbia in 2008.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have an established group called the RCMP Musical Ride. These 32 officers, who are rotated after three years service, perform equestrian drills for the public throughout Canada. Flickr user Nikki Tate caught the Musical Ride performing in Ottawa on Canada Day in 2007, and posted a set of great photographs.

Other Canada Day traditions that are gaining footholds are picnics, festivals, sporting events, and fireworks.

Many Canada Day events are planned all over the country, in Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, and in Victoria, where the flag will be recreated on the lawn of the BC legislature, as it was last year seen in this picture. Image by Bruce Stotesbury/Times Colonist.

The lyrics to O Canada can be found here. Hear the French version as well. For more information, visit the official Canada Day website.